Several family members have expressed an interest in hearing more "family stories". Now that all of our older family members have passed on, it falls to my generation to keep the stories alive for our children and their children. I plan to put a bunch of family stories and family history onto this blog. Hopefully it won't be too boring for non-family members!
I'll start with what I know about my mother's side of the family. I have a pretty good family tree, and some history that my Grandma Mercy wrote down. There's also a web page with some Whitfield family documents, and another with a Whitfield Family History. Let's go for it!
My great great grandfather, Civil War General Nathan Bryan Whitfield (1798-1868)**[NOTE: someone who commented has corrected this - see the comments below] moved his family and slaves from Lenoir County, N.C., to Marengo County, Alabama, in 1835. He took part in expanding the cotton culture into the Old Southwest and built Gaineswood mansion in Demopolis. His son was Bryan Whitfield, and this is a photo of what he looked like, as well as a group portrait of his nine children, including Richard, my grandfather, on the far left. Bryan's wife was Ellen White Whitfield (photo above, center of group, with my mother standing right behind her).
When I was a child, I knew a few of these people, who were my mother's fraternal aunts and uncles. My grandfather, Richard, died when I was about 4 years old, and my memories of him are few. Anna Wray (standing on the left in the second row) was an old woman living in New Haven, Ct. with her sister Fannie (seated on the right side). I believe that both were "old maids". Anna Wray (whom we called "Auntie Wray") was a fun-loving and warm woman, who always welcomed us with huge hugs and much nurturing. She wore cotton house dresses and had silver/grey wavy hair and dimples. She laughed easily, and had a light hearted way about her. I remember the happiness of going to her house, and always begging to stay longer. Such warmth and playfulness was in short supply in my childhood. Here's a photo of her reading with me in our library at home, in 1951.
Uncle Nathan (back row in group photo above, standing at right with bow tie) was also living in New Haven, with his hilarious wife, Aunt Florence. They were a pair of pranksters, and kept up a funny banter of jokes and laughter. Uncle Nathan always had plenty of money, and always drove new cars. I remember them coming to visit us on the farm in New Jersey - in fact there is a photo of him putting us children into the trunk of his latest car for a joke. We thought it was terrific. As you can see from this photo, he was one of the earliest people I knew of who was able to have his initials on "vanity plates" on his car!
I know he helped various family members financially. He bought a beautiful dining table for my parents, which ever after was referred to as Uncle Nathan's table. My grandmother wrote that, when my grandfather had extended illnesses (diabetes, etc) they had a long period of financial hardship. Uncle Nathan came to the rescue then and bought his brother (my grandfather Richard) a house in Hackettstown, N.J., where they lived for the next several years. Here's a photo of my grandparents, Mercy and Richard, in front of that house.
Grandpa Richard's other brothers and sisters (in the group photograph above) must have died before I was born, and I never heard much about any of them. Perhaps some other cousins will chime in, and correct or enhance what I know about our family?!